Do any of us have enough ‘fun’?

The last time we can be sure we were glimpsing the idea of fun’s potential seems to have been the 1960s.  So now the word is the super signifier for that decade.

Used by Barbara Hulanicki on her ‘Desert Island Discs,’ by Miranda Hart’s fictional mother, often in interviews with Mary Quant; it expresses the possibility of freedom  and pleasure.

Fizzing with the excitements left over from the take-up of Modernism, in the 1950s, by the 60s for the first time in history the young had money to spend.  Quant, Hulanicki, et al were there waiting for their Art School educations to liberalise the rest and so we began to spend every night, ‘out’!

The moment when it was possible to be having the most fun is surely when Modernism morphed into to its ironic younger sister, the multifaceted, ducking, dodging, diving, diva, post-Modernism.

The revolutionary, tone-setting, Biba brought in well-designed clothes and accessories for a new object-of-desire-hungry demographic.

Brighton Art college graduate Fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki opened a mail order clothing company with her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon.  Their Postal Boutique was overwhelmed with orders for a sleeveless gingham shift dress featured in the ‘Daily Mirror.’


Vivien Leigh – role model or victim figure?

Heroines from novels with green eyes.
Heroines from novels with green eyes.

Separating Vivien Leigh from  Scarlett O’Hara is almost impossible.

When she took on the role of the Pulitzer prize winning American Civil War heroine in ‘Gone with the Wind,‘ in 1937, she became the most viewed, the most famous actress of the 20th century.

In 1999 I was teaching in 6th forms in Yorkshire, and studying with Antony Easthope in Manchester.

Even so, one day, I caught Judy Finnegan and Richard Madeley on ‘This Morning.’ They were reviewing either the whole of the last century, or maybe it was just Cinema!

A viewer phoned in from around Cornwall.  She said Scarlett O’Hara was ‘powerful’ first and then ‘beautiful,’secondly.  So I had a Feminist role model to write about for a study on Film!

More surprising than this was the so called ‘confession’ from Richard.  He said he had carried a photograph of Leigh/Scarlett in his pocket ever since seeing ‘Gone with the Wind’ 20 years earlier!

‘Scarlett O’Hara and the post-bellum New Look’ became a chapter in ‘Fashion, Media, Promotion.’ I learned that the ‘post-war’ Latin tag usually referred to the American Civil War.  So people like my daughter, Sally, and my partner, Simon, thought I was better informed than in reality!  I chose it to go with the post WW2, Christian Dior, 1947 full-skirted sensation!

The V&A held a celebration of the ‘Golden Age of Couture’ in 2007.  There I discovered the tiny waist fetish and the massive audiences following Scarlett were part of the revival of Paris after WW2.  I also found actual connections between Vivien Leigh and Christian Dior.

Now I’m IT! On Wednesday 13th November at 1pm, in the Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, I’m giving a lunchtime talk!  Here’s the listing from the V&A site!

Vivien Leigh – role model or victim figure?

‘LUNCHTIME LECTURE: David Selznick’s, ‘I’ll never recover from that first look,’ gives us a clue to Vivien Leigh’s stage-management of her initial meeting with important producer of ‘Gone with the Wind’, the 20th century’s most watched movie.

Her co-stars thought her ‘blind ambition’ cost her too much, and laid the plot for further exploitation of her enigmatic beauty.

A hundred years since her birth, Jayne Sheridan tells her story of brilliance and despair.

We know who wears the Prada!

The Devil Wears Prada started a panic in the Fashion publishing world because Lauren Weisberger had worked as an intern for Anna Wintour.  Everyone at Vogue kept quiet about the book because, I was told, they thought, “why publicise this thing!”  When the film came out no-one in the Fashion business minded, the script tied the whole of the industry together and made everyone realise how skilled Fashion people are.  In  IMAGES OF PASSION Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Givenchy’s, we discover who actually wears the Prada!

Above right: Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway play together in the Fashion game!


Fashion savvy?

Will Gompertz didn’t show at the Naim June Paik symposium, on Friday, at Liverpool’s Film/Media centre, FACT.  So  this weblog is mainly directed at him.

Hadley Freeman’s column in The Guardian, is witty, New York in its, acerbic, one-liner style; Dorothy Parker might well be an ancestor. But on Thursday night’s, BBC 2, Culture Show her, non-Freudian, Fashion slip was showing.

Reviewing fourteen year old Tavi’s career, as a Fashion blogger, Freeman associated her with Anna Wintour; revealing  a strange ignorance of the Fashion game.  Tavi might, one day, edit/create/design more than just her own blog but Anna Wintour is not a writer.

If Freeman has seen ‘The September Issue’, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ or the Marie Claire, vehicle, ‘Running in Heels,’  she would know that Fashion editors do not compete with writers.  They commission works to fit in with overall concepts for specific editions. They collaborate with creative directors to invent new visual forms.  They consult with industry leaders and Fashion designers to inspire cults and trends.

In, David Frankel’s  film, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ the Fashion world is tied together; its links with the Media and with the clothing industry are revealed  (p.4 * ‘Fashion, Media, Promotion, the new black magic’).

With successful Fashion academics, and writers, in Britain and America and millions of sophisticated Fashion consumers there could be a Media trick to be turned, on something like the Culture Show, with more inclusive, Fashion-savvy, angles waiting to be explored.

Above right: *Celebrating Fashion’s links with Hollywood.